Friday, April 13, 2012

Guest Post: Military Bride Part 3

Welcome back to the third installment in a three part series of one military bride's story.  If you didn't catch the first two posts, here is the link to part 1 and the link to part 2.  Abby was a FCW client in October 2010 who has a pretty incredible story that started in a grocery store in Blacksburg, VA and ended up halfway across the world living in Guam.  She keeps updating her adventures on her blog, Seaweed & Sassafras, so check it out to see the latest.  This last post is about the formal wedding planning.  Enjoy!

We quickly settled into our little beachfront Condo. How many couples come home from work and walk the beach, or meet with friends to play volleyball? It was heaven. After a few months we decided we were ready to tackle planning a wedding. Now remember, Guam is a good 14 hours ahead of the East Coast, USA. So if it is noon in Maryland, it is 2am in Guam. Plane tickets cost about $2000 and it takes about 26 hours of flying to reach Maryland. It was obvious all of our planning was going to be done via internet and phone calls. After a few talks with my Mom, we realized we needed help; someone to help keep us organized and on track. Enter, Felicity. The first step was prioritizing what we needed to get done and when. We knew Chris would be deploying from November until June, so we started searching for a venue. Being 10,000 miles away from our venue meant no walk through for this girl. I had to trust in my heart to know it when I saw it. It helped to have Felicity and my parents visit the top choices and send me photos. I fell in love with Swan Harbor Farm the moment I saw it on the internet. It had sweeping lawns, grand old trees, overlooked the Chesapeake Bay, I swooned. We took whatever opening they had. In the mean time, Felicity and I would trade emails of decor ideas, colors, etc., trying to pinpoint some design elements. Chris and I share a mutual love for the outdoors and wildlife, so we decided to incorporate that into our theme.

When Chris deployed (for the first time) it was very hard, especially not living in the same country as my friends and family. But I did what every military wife has to do, pick up the pieces and make the best of it. We stayed in touch through email, a few port visits and just the anticipation of the day he would come home. He was always supportive, but let me make a lot of the decisions.

I was able to come home for the holidays. Three weeks turned into a whirlwind of wedding meetings. Felicity and I were finally able to sit down in person and talk through ideas, advice, tips, etc. This trip was also my only chance to find a wedding gown! There’s a little added pressure in finding a wedding dress knowing this is pretty much your only chance, but it didn’t take away from the special moment. We didn’t get everything done, but I left feeling like we had really made progress.
Our vendors were just fantastic. The caterer, Gourmet By the Bay, practically over-nighted color/fabric swatches to Guam and were so flexible during the decision making process. They also coordinated with us to have a video chat while my parents tasted our menu, a first for them. I like to think I pioneered the way for future long-distance Brides. They also offered to give Chris and I another tasting just before the wedding. Talk about thinking outside the box. I emailed pictures of the wedding cakes to SugarBakers Cakes and my parents went to the tasting. It’s funny but I never felt like I was missing out on anything by not being there in person. I was afraid that I would, but really I was still very involved. And the meetings I was able to be there for, the flowers for one, meant so much to me.

A month away from the big day Chris and I flew back together via Space A, which is a military flight that was only $65 compared to the $4000 it would have been. The flight took us through the Marshall Islands, Hawaii, Fresno, Los Angeles and finally Maryland. Landing the night before our final walk through at Swan Harbor, I was definitely jet-lagged through the entire meeting. I hate to say this, but we really left most of the details to the last month. I found the table cards, watercolors of different birds, on Etsy. Love Etsy. We took a trip to Chincoteague, my home away from home, and bought boxes of Salt Water Taffy to give away as favors. We met with Tina of Wicked Willow who was so enthusiastic and creative. I wanted very unique and whimsical flowers, she understood my vision right away and always went above and beyond. My neighbor was our officiant and Chris and I wrote our entire Ceremony, including vows. We saved our vows to be a surprise to one another which was one of my favorite parts of the day. Friday was our rehearsal dinner, and Saturday we actually held my Bridal shower! Sunday, October 3 we were married. We left for Guam the next morning at 4am. It was a whirlwind, but the most joyful, beautiful day of my life.

All photos credited to ReadyLuck/ Jacqueline Schlossman

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